Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 13 Jan 2021

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1. Republicans turn against Trump

Democrats’ efforts to remove Donald Trump from office are gathering pace as some of his fellow Republicans begin to break ranks. The House of Representatives’ third most senior Republican, Liz Cheney, said she would vote to impeach the US president after last week’s riot at the US Capitol. Yesterday, Trump denied responsibility for inciting the disorder, insisting: “What I said was totally appropriate. I want no violence.”

Will Trump be allowed to finish his term?

2. Patients to be moved to hotels

Thousands of hospital patients will be discharged early to hotels or their own homes to free up beds for those suffering severe cases of Covid-19. The Guardian says hospitals in England will start discharging patients early on a scale never seen before. The NHS is also asking care homes to start accepting Covid patients directly from hospitals after 14 days in isolation.

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London hospitals two weeks from being ‘overwhelmed’

3. Outrage over school meals

The government is under pressure to re-examine how free school meals are provided to vulnerable children under the latest lockdown, after Marcus Rashford highlighted “woefully inadequate” food parcels estimated to be worth little more than £5. Food parcels are being sent to schoolchildren in England who would normally get free school meals. Labour has called for the government to restart the national food vouchers scheme.

4. Historic mafia trial to open

Italy’s largest mafia trial in three decades begins today. More than 900 witnesses will testify at a high-security courtroom against more than 350 people, including politicians and officials charged with being members of the ’Ndrangheta clan. More than 24,000 wiretaps and intercepted conversations have been collected to back up the charges. Some defendants will testify by video link and others will sit in socially distanced cages in the courtroom.

Where does the Mafia still have power?

5. Hospital staff traumatised by Covid

Many hospital staff treating coronavirus patients been left traumatised by the experience, a study has found. When researchers at King’s College London spoke to 709 workers at nine intensive care units in England, nearly half reported symptoms of severe anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or problem drinking. A researcher said NHS workers are “suffering more than combat troops”.

Will NHS crisis trigger lockdown tightening?

6. Stores adapt to Covid threat

John Lewis suspended its click-and-collect service yesterday following pressure on shops to do more to help to contain the virus. The chain said it took the decision after a “change in tone” from government. Tesco, Asda, Aldi and Waitrose joined Morrisons and Sainsbury’s in banning shoppers without masks from stores unless they have a medical reason.

7. Chinese vaccine ‘only 50% effective’

A Covid vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac has been found to be 50.4% effective in Brazilian clinical trials, showing the jab is significantly less effective than previous data suggested. Indonesia, Turkey and Singapore are among the countries to have placed orders for the vaccine. It works by using dead viral particles to expose the body's immune system to the virus without risking a serious disease response.

Inside the Chinese vaccine makers

8. Earl admits to sexual assault

A Scottish earl has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a woman at his ancestral home in Angus. The Earl of Strathmore, Simon Bowes-Lyon, forced his way into the sleeping woman’s room during an event he was hosting at Glamis Castle. Bowes-Lyon has been placed on the Sex Offenders Register and granted bail as sentencing was deferred for reports.

9. Brexit exempts Brits from speeding fines

British drivers will escape most speeding fines in EU nations because the UK’s departure has ended deals governing several motoring offences in the bloc. French officials say that following Brexit, the EU’s cross-border enforcement directive no longer applies, ending arrangements for sharing information about drivers caught on speed cameras. The Times says the news puts British drivers in the “fast lane”.

10. Duchess of York pens romantic novel

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, has written a novel for leading romantic fiction publisher Mills & Boon. Her Heart for a Compass is based on the life of the duchess’s great-great-aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott. She said: “I am proud to bring my personal brand of historical fiction to the publishing world.” The duchess has previously written a children’s book series, Budgie the Helicopter.

The rise and fall of Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew

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